Sociolinguistics of French - FR615

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2018-19 2019-20
(version 2)
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6 15 (7.5)


Students registering for this module will need to have proficiency in the target language at level B2/C1, as the module is taught partly in the target language


This module is not available as a wild module



This module is designed to make students aware of varieties of modern French other than the standard language. It will focus on issues associated with linguistic inequality and encourage students to investigate variation in contemporary French for themselves. There can be few countries where linguistic prescriptivism is as deep-rooted as it is in France. The Académie française pronounces on le bon usage, while the education system is hostile to regional varieties. To focus exclusively on standard French, however, is to ignore a rich diversity of language at a number of levels. This module will attempt to redress the balance by considering such issues as regional and socio-situational variation within modern French, as well as variation according to sex, class, or age. Other issues to be considered will be the relationship between français régional and dialect, the role of franglais, language policy and attitudes, and the position of French outside France. A background in Linguistics will not be assumed.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

One weekly two-hour seminar for 10 weeks

Method of assessment

60% Coursework, 40% Exam

Preliminary reading

Indicative Reading:

Armstrong, N. (2001) Social and Stylistic Variation in Spoken French: A comparative Approach. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Ball, R. (1997) The French-Speaking World: a practical introduction to sociolinguistic issues. Routledge.
Battye, A. & Hintze, M-A & Rowlett, P. (2000). The French Language Today. London: Routledge.
Walter, H. (1994) French Inside and Out. London: Routledge.
Wardhaugh, R. (1998) An Introduction to Sociolinguistics.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Accurately interpret correlations between linguistic data and extralinguistic parameters in French and other languages;
8.2 Design sociolinguistic projects and conduct independent fieldwork;
8.3 Demonstrate critical and informed awareness of variation in French at different levels (e.g. lexicon, syntax, phonology);
8.4 Use descriptive linguistic and sociolinguistic terminology (e.g. variable, indicator, age-grading, stereotype, hypercorrection) with confidence.

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